Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Governors State University is "faced with insurmountable opportunities," President Elaine P. Maimon said at Tuesday's Convocation ceremony.
Dr. Maimon said that quote originally appeared years ago in the classic comic strip "Pogo," but that it sums up the current exciting times at GSU as the university prepares for first-year students in 2014, adds state-of-the-art science classrooms and labs, implements a dynamic Academic Master Plan, demonstrates a national model for community college transfer in the Dual Degree Program, opens its first on-campus student housing, and continues to thrive even in challenging times.
During Convocation 2012, the official start of the new academic year, President Maimon presented three Excellence Awards to faculty members, and the Gerald C. Baysore Award, the highest honor that GSU can bestow. This year's Excellence Awards were presented to Dr. Diana Galante, Associate Professor of Mathematics; Dr. Raven James, Assistant Professor in the Department of Addiction Studies and Behavioral Health; and Dr. Jason Zingsheim, Assistant Professor of Communications Studies. Dr. Larry Cross, Associate Professor in COE's Division of Education, was presented with the Baysore Award.
Entering her sixth year as president, Dr. Maimon said the state of the university is strong.
"Five years ago, at my installation, I articulated a vision of renewal and reinvention," she said. "GSU was founded in 1969 as an innovative university. The goal, then as now, was to take advantage of insurmountable opportunities. In 2007, I proposed extending that tradition of innovation to create a model 21st century university. In this half-decade, we have come a long way toward that goal."
Dr. Maimon said GSU has defied conventional wisdom by promoting a high-quality pathway from community college to a university bachelor's degree while at the same time making plans for a leading-edge freshman program. Next week, 47 Dual Degree Program students will begin their junior year as full-time students at GSU. Sixteen of those students have been awarded GSU Promise scholarships; they are expected to graduate from the university debt-free.
Similarly, GSU's plans for first-year education are steadily moving forward, she said. Provost Terry Allison has invited two of the most prominent scholars on the first- year experience - John Gardner and Betsy Barefoot - to lead a symposium at GSU on October 19. The First-Year Planning Committee, led by Dr. Ann Vendrely, and the Faculty Senate, let by its president, Dr. Rashidah Muhammad, are making progress on academic plans.
Dr. Maimon said high ethical standards need to be the basis of what GSU, and all institutions of higher learning, must do. The terrible scandal at Penn State University serves as a reminder that we need to renew our commitment to strong ethical leadership, to protect the vulnerable, to create an atmosphere of trust and transparency, and to prevent bullying and harassment.
"Everyone here has a role in creating this ethical environment, and everyone must exert constant vigilance because creating an ethical environment is something that is never completed once and for all," she said. "It is constructed of our everyday awareness and actions."
During the coming year, Dr. Maimon said, the first phase of the E and F Science Renovation Project will be completed. Ground will be broken for student housing. Research will begin in labs funded through the National Science Foundation. "Improvements to GSU's facilities - from infrastructure to parking lots, classrooms to labs, technology resources to signage - have been significantly upgraded, driven by a commitment to serve students better by improving the teaching and learning environment," she said. She thanked Executive Vice President Gebe Ejigu for having envisioned, led, and implemented these projects.
Dr. Maimon said GSU's positive momentum will not be impeded by the depressing financial state of the nation and the state of Illinois.
"Yes, the waters continue to be troubled, but our strong ship sails forward," she said.
Convocation 2012 Video Highlights
Convocation 2011 Video Highlights
Convocation 2009/2010 Video Highlights
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All 2010 Convocation Videos